Saturday, April 23, 2011

We're Home!

  We got back to Alabama yesterday evening in time for supper.  The kids were glad to see us, and we were glad to be home.  Justin had been sick off and on with a stomach virus/fever the entire week.  He's such a tough guy, though, and I hadn't been too worried about him.  However, Leslie came down with it on Wednesday night.  Her older sisters and my mom had been doing a good job of taking care of her and Justin, but when we Skyped with them Thursday night after arriving back in Sofia, I saw her wiping away sweet little tears, and I knew she needed her mommy!
  We slept really well last night, and are getting back to normal.

  I'll post on a couple of pictures of when we were saying good-bye.  I'm very thankful for the fact that we should be able to keep in touch with Teddy through his English teacher.  She doesn't have an email address, but the orphanage director said that I could email her, and she would pass it on to Albena (the teacher) to translate for Teddy. 
So I really have to hug him?!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday and Good-byes

   I have lots and lots to tell, but most will have to wait.  It's after 9 pm here, and we still want to Skype with our kids at home for a few minutes and then head to bed.  We have to get up at 4 am to head to the airport.  We had a great time with Teodor this morning, and I wanted to tell everyone a BIG thank-you for praying for me with the good-bye part.  It was hard, but managable-- with God's grace!! 
     To start with, though, the weather was much, much better today, and we got to go outside.  It gave us lots of room to play in (the room we'd been in every day till today was very small.  It's a wonder that he had not broken furniture, the mirror and the windows with our playing ball in there!).  Teddy loves the tire swing, and of course we had the beloved ball along, and there were things to climb on.....  but the best part was when we somehow or other communicated that we'd play hide and seek.  Toni and Marti had stayed outside the play yard, so we didn't have a translator, so this was really our "first go" at the language barrier -- tough, to say the least.  But, we managed, and it was a blast!

Look, Teddy, You're as tall as I am!!

Just hangin' out with Daddy!

Teddy's hiding.....

Where's Teddy???

Oh-- He found me!!!

Then came the good-bye.  We got Marti to take some pictures for us before we left.  Teodor really just can't comprehend all that is going on.  We would much have rather played with his ball than hugged (and even kissed!!  Oh Dear!) these people good-bye!  The director was so sweet and was trying to get him to do the expected good-bye things.... blow kisses, wave lots, follow us out the gate, and all that.  I was barely holding it together and was just thinking, "Let's just skip all this and let him go get his ball and be happy!!"  But, God's strength is sufficient, and I didn't cry till we were down the road!!  I'm sure when we were out of sight, life went back to normal for him and he got his ball back!!  Just that thought made me happy.  I know that on this end of things, we'll be doing everything possible to get back there quickly.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Afternoon at the Beach

  Yesterday in the afternoon between visits to the orphanage, Marti took us to a town back south (not very far) and we went out on the beach.  Toni was working on some adoption paperwork and emails, and had stayed at the hotel.  It was beautiful and we had so much fun. 

Wednesday Afternoon

   I had to take a nap this afternoon, as I guess I’d been running on adrenalin all week, anyway, and it finally gave out!!  I had been sleeping OK, but last night I really didn’t sleep all that much. 
   We went back to the orphanage about 4 o’clock and played some more.  Dan and I decided that he’d do more of taking pictures today and let me play more.  We all played Uno again, though—even Marti!  We are enjoying Toni and Marti SO much!!
   After we played, Teodor was ready to take the Lego fire truck apart and put it back together.  So, I was the Lego person today.  I did OK, but Dan had to bail us out a couple of times!  Ha!  Then, we brought out a book --  Richard Scarry’s Big Word Book (or something like that).  I’d shown it to the English teacher this morning, and told her I’d leave it with the orphanage director for them to use.  It has great vocabulary in it – with Kenny Bear waking up, washing his face, brushing his teeth, etc.  There are pages with everything you can think of (at the airport – he liked that one!  Body parts, even fire trucks!)  The last page is numbers, and his love for math came out again.  He and I counted all of the objects—I in English and he in Bulgarian.
   We played ball a little bit, and Teodor wanted Marti and Toni to shoot as well.  Dan is a good basketball goal!!  J  His friend had come back in, and Teodor wanted him to shoot, too.  I was really glad to see him wanting to share.  He’s really responded well to everything--  he easily transitions between activities, hasn’t pitched a fit or even acted ugly at all when we decide to do something he doesn’t want to do (like take his measurements.)  He doesn’t always like it, but he has self control.  It seems like his major delays are social things… but I think he’ll learn.  Toni was “instructing” him on how to hug me when we got ready to go…. And he really did give me a very hard squeeze as opposed to just standing somewhat lifeless when I’ve hugged him before!!  And, he even went with his friend to the front door to wave at us when we were in the van leaving.  We go out the back, and walk around, and he sometimes walk to the door with him, but has never gone to a window to watch us go.  The other boy, on the other hand, has gone to each window around the orphanage “following” us as we go around, and then stands at the door waving till we leave.  So, I guess Teodor caught on today! 
   Just as a side note, the director said that his friend’s file is with the MOJ --  He needs a family, too!!  So, everyone out there needs to be praying!!!  It was Kullin’s adoption (Shelley’s visits) that brought us to Teodor, and we’ll very gladly pass on the favor for a family for this other boy!!

Wednesday Morning

Today was another answer to prayer.  We got to visit Teodor’s school and set up English lessons for him with the English teacher there.  It all worked out SO well!  Praise the Lord!  I had not wanted to take time away from him to go to the neighboring village where his school is, so I was really hoping that they would let him go with us, but that wasn’t possible.  We stopped by the orphanage and picked up the orphanage director, and she gave us directions as Marti drove.  My first impression of the school was NOT a good one, but thankfully it got better.  We were waiting at a gate for someone with a key to come and let us drive through, and Dan and I were watching what all was going on in the school yard.  It was very chaotic, and I couldn’t see one adult anywhere around.  There were boys Teodor’s size (and they did end up being in his class) who were fighting, and kids of all ages just roaming around.  Finally it occurred to me to look at the time, and sure enough, it was recess time.  By the time we got into the “compound” and the director had gone for a teacher, the kids were heading back to class.  I was relieved.  The school director and the English teacher came out to meet with us.  Both of them were VERY nice.  That relieved me a little more.  We discussed what exactly we would want her to teach Teodor, and she seemed to fully understand the importance of teaching him spoken phrases as opposed to grammar or written language.  We gave her lots of examples of phrases that we thought would be helpful, and she was definitely on the same page. 
   Then, they invited us into the school.  We took a good many pictures, and were even able to go into his classroom and meet his teacher and classmates.  The teacher had actually told the class that we were adopting Teodor!!  The orphanage director had called to explain why he wouldn’t be in class all week, and the teacher had told everyone!  His teacher is a man who seemed very nice.  The only reservation that I had by this time was that they showed us his desk, and he sits in the back of the classroom.  I know that there is no way that he can see the chalkboard.  But, school will be over in less than 2 months, and I really think that he learns more just by going over his homework with the caretakers at the orphanage.
   We were really ready to get back to see him.  And, he was ready to see us, too!  -- Who cares if it was just so that someone would play legos and ball with him!!  J  Before we played, though, the orphanage director and Toni talked with him about the adoption.  We had not wanted to do this before now, because we wanted to give him enough time to get to know us.  WE were sure about it ourselves, but we wanted him to be sure.  He said that, yes, he’d like to join our family…. Especially when it meant that he could ride on an airplane to get there!  Ha Ha!  I realize that he has almost NO concept of family… so I don’t expect him to be all that thrilled about having one.  He basically doesn’t know what that means.  Toni had told us that if kids are 10 years old or older, the court actually requires them to be present at the adoption case and state that they are choosing to be adopted.  Teodor isn’t that old, but it was still important to discuss all of this with him. 
   So, anyway, then we played some more.  We had brought along some Uno cards, and taught him and his friend how to play (without any of the cards like Reverse, Skip, etc. at first so that it was easier to understand.)  He caught on quickly.  Marti came in and played some with us, too.  His friend, couldn’t play as well, but he really enjoyed it.  When we were finished, they were so cute.  They asked if they could divide and share the cards, and keep them at the orphanage.  It makes me just want to go buy them things so that they can have more things that are just theirs!  But, of course, it’s not things that makes one truly happy.  And, naturally, we don’t want to come across as people who just give him a bunch of things--   whatever he wants!  That’s not real life.  So, this afternoon, we drew the line when he wanted to keep my camera!!  Ha Ha!!  (Actually, I’m borrowing Anna’s camera anyway!)  He suffered through my hug on the way out, and when we told him we’d be back in the afternoon, he said, “Well, don’t forget, or I’ll be waiting and waiting for you!!”  Don’t you think for a minute that this mom would forget you!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Afternoon

   This afternoon was great, too.  We started out with the legos as I’d said before.  Then, before too long, while all of the pieces were still spread out in the floor, the orphanage director came in with Shelley’s little girl, and Susan’s little girl.  Some people will know who I’m referring to here, but for those of you who don’t, 2 other families are adopting children from this same orphanage.  They’ll come back here with Toni in a couple of months.  Actually, Shelley’s family has already adopted a little boy from this orphanage.  He was Teodor’s friend; they used to ride the school bus to school together.  It’s thanks to Shelley that we even got Teodor’s file in the first place!!
   Anyway, we had to quickly get the legos out of the way, and play with the girls for a few minutes.  I had brought my measuring tape along, and before they left, I quickly measured the girls so that Shelley and Susan can have an idea of clothing size.  While I had it out, I decided to measure Teodor, too.  (When we come back for our second trip, we’ll have to bring a suitcase of clothing for him because he won’t take anything from the orphanage …. The clothing is all “collective,” and they’ll need it for the other kids his size.)  He was MORE than ready to get back to the legos, and again, he tolerated me.  Ha!  Now I was the strange woman who wanted to hug him AND measure him.  Pretty weird in his book!
  After they got all finished and played with the fire truck, he wanted to play ball.  But…., the strange woman strikes again!  In the meanwhile, someone had come in with Teodor’s school books, and I had been looking through them.  I wanted him to show me how he could read.  He tolerated me!! … and read a little bit (this is where we saw the need for glasses again).  So, I asked him which subject he really likes the best.  He said math, so I got out his math book.  He started warming up to the idea when I decided to bribe him with taking his video.  He told Toni he’d say the 2s times tables.  I got the cutest video as he said both the 2s and the 10s.  So, we clapped and cheered (I was VERY impressed!)  Then I asked him to sing a song…. And another bribe—I’d video again!  He sang Dashing Through the Snow and on through 2 choruses of Jingle Bells!!  SO cute!  But, we ran out of time for playing ball.  Oops.  I’m not winning brownie points.  I’m hoping to do better tomorrow!!!  But, I so love watching him play with Dan, that I don’t mind a bit.
   The school books opportunity was quite an answer to prayer, though.  Right away I noticed things that I really needed to know in teaching him math.  Several of the symbols that they use (for ex., for “times” and “divided by”) are different than the way we write it.  I really need to know things like that for home schooling purposes.  And, it did answer other schooling questions, too.  So, I was really glad that I could see them.

Tuesday Morning

Where do I even start???  Today was just amazing.  This little guy is going to be a Daddy’s boy.  Right now I’m just the strange woman who would like to hug him a lot…. And he’s not really into hugs!  He tolerates me!  J  He did absolutely LOVE the video that we made of our kids at home.  We had it on our laptop and took it with us today.  And, I was the video and camera person…  so that made me pretty cool for a little while!  Ha! 
    One thing that we noticed for sure today is that he really does need glasses.  We asked the director about it, but she said that it wouldn’t be good, because the other kids in his orphanage would take them off of him and break them.  Teodor is the highest functioning kid there…. And many are larger, but working with intellect around that of an 18 month old.  What’s the first thing little kids reach for when someone with glasses is holding them?  Definitely the glasses.  So, these kids can walk and get around, and being bigger than Teodor, they wouldn’t let glasses stay on him for a second.
    We started out the day playing ball a little bit.  Then, Dan reached into the backpack and brought out the lego firetruck set.  Teodor’s eyes LIT up!!  He was SO excited.  I continue to be amazed at his hand-eye coordination.  This is one place where we were seeing his need for glasses, but even still, he was doing an excellent job of putting the legos (these were little legos, too) together.  He’d always try very hard, and only if he really couldn’t get it, would he ask for help.  I liked his determination.  But, he wasn’t really stubborn about it.  He kept looking at the picture on the box, and wanting to copy it, but you really have to go in a particular order, so he would listen to directions.  He was SO very proud when it was all done.  He turned around to Toni to show it to her, and whispered, “I would really like to keep it.”  When we told him he could, he was VERY happy!  Later the orphanage director came in (he calls her “boss”…. SO funny!) and he couldn’t wait to get it to show it to her.  He always puts everything neatly away when we’re finished with it (… maybe he’ll teach the rest of my kids!  Ha).  So, he ran to his little cabinet and got it out.  Then, he put it back away when she was finished bragging on him.  I thought that he’d just want to keep it safe in the cabinet and just take it out to look at it.  But, first thing this afternoon when we were back for our afternoon visit, he took it out and asked if he and Dan could take it apart and do it all over again!  Of course the answer to that was yes!!  So, legos really took up a lot of the day.  But, he’ll certainly fit in around our house as that’s the main activity going on in the living room most days!

Concentrating hard on the Legos

Proudly showing the "boss" his fire truck!

Hiding it away again in his cabinet

Can you tell how much he enjoys playing ball with Dan?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Picture... one at a time!

Visit on Monday afternoon

    Our second visit was much better than the first…  Not that the first went badly, but we were all just tense.  Teddy was so cute when we arrived back at the orphanage.  He’d asked if he could keep a Bob and Larry matching card game that we’d played with him.  We told him he could, and that we’d play again in the afternoon.  Right away when we saw him, he brought out the cards and said, “I took care of them!”  He’d hidden them under the chair cover!  It was so funny!  We played cards again.  He played with Dan and then with me.  We had to keep making it harder for him, because he was so good.  We had started with just 8 cards and had moved up to 16.  Then, we added a third one of each kind, so that you didn’t just find a pair; you turned up 3 at a time and had to find 3 that matched.  I didn’t think I could do it!  Ha!
   Then, we started making up games with the ball.  In that, without a doubt, he has me beat!  Again, we started with simple things (rolling or tossing to each other) and moved to more difficult.  Dan started making his arms into a hoop, and Teddy was shooting the ball like a basketball.  He made it every time.  So, he started making the “hoop” smaller…. Teddy still made it almost every time.  Then, he started moving his arms back and forth (in rhythm so that it was predictable) and he STILL made it!  He loved every minute of it. 
   When we had to go, Toni asked him if he would give each of us a hug.  He looked at her like, “What in the world would I do that for?”  But, he did!  And he even squeezed tight~.  Better keep up those prayers for Thursday at noon, because I was in tears when I left him today!!!
   Two really sweet things that happened that show what a good kid he is:  We asked him what he had for lunch and he told us.  Then, he started telling us a lot that of course we didn’t’ understand.  Toni said that he was telling us about how he helps feed some of the younger kids when he’s finished.  And, it’s not because they make him.  He’s like a big brother.  In the middle of one ball game, we could hear another kid crying loudly in another room.  He made us stop while he listened for quite awhile.  I could tell that he was trying to figure out by the cries who it was exactly that was crying.  Finally, he said that he wanted to go see what was up.  He went to check on the other child and came back.  The kid hadn’t stopped crying, but I guess he was satisfied that all was OK.
   I’m headed downstairs now to the lobby to see if I can post this and add some pictures.  I didn’t feel as bad about my inability to get the pictures to do right when I enlisted Marty’s help (Toni’s brother) and he couldn’t get it to do, either.  And, he knows much more about computers than I do!!  If all else fails, I guess I’ll just have to add pictures one at a time. L

Here's "Teddy!!!"

   I woke up this morning with the oddest feeling.  Here it is-- THE day.  Of course, I also felt odd because my sleep is quite odd!  :)  I go to sleep fine, then wake up for several hours, then go back to sleep and sleep till the alarm.  BUT, at least I'm sleeping.  Dan did better than I did last night .... so we switched, because I'd been doing more sleeping than he had beforehand.
   We ate breakfast in Toni's room because this hotel doesn't serve meals.  We had cereal and toast and were off-- first to change money (this was the first time the banks were open since we arrived on Sat. evening) then on to the orphanage.
   Again, a very strange feeling when we drove up.  Stranger when we got out of the van, and even moreso when we walked in.  The orphanage director is very nice, though, and I soon calmed down.  She had people that had just arrived (maybe inspectors?) so she didn't spend long with us.  I asked a few questions and then they sent Teodor down to us.  We found out that we were actually in his room.  That was different, because when Shelley had been here before, he'd been in a room upstairs with other boys.  Now he's staying on the first floor in his own room.  Very unusual, and the first time I get a chance, I'll ask.  We never got to talk to the director again as she was with the other people.  We later heard that one was a mayor.  Maybe they were just making a political visit!
  So, anyway, he came in and was very nervous.  He shook our hands, told us his name, and asked us ours.  He is very sweet and polite!!  He got over his nerves later and we all played and had fun.  It was too cold to go outside.  Actually, it was very windy.  I think we could have handled the temperature, but the wind was rough, and they didn't want him to go outside.
  We're about to go back to the orphanage for our visit this afternoon, so I won't get into lots of details till later.  I'll try putting on some more pictures.  I'm having a hard time with my pictures.  Very frustrating, because I'd like to share more, but for some reason -- all but one time -- it will only let me put on one per post. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our Hotel

Here is a picture of the view from our room.  The Black Sea is in the background.

Sunday On the Road

  We've made it into the region where Teodor's orphanage is.  Tomorrow we'll drive the rest of the way to the village.  I  don't think that his village has a hotel... or at least one that Toni would choose to stay in, both for our sakes and for hers.  Bulgaria isn't all that wheel-chair accessible.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned on the blog that Toni's legs are paralyzed.  She is such a wonderful lady, and has such a huge heart for the children of Bulgaria.  I'll have to be sure to take a picture of her tomorrow.
     We're in the lobby to connect to the internet, and really need to head back upstairs, so this will be a short post.  Our hotel here is beautiful.... and the 7 hr. drive to get here was, too.  Here is a picture.

     There were TONS of apple orchards, vineyards, other fruit trees, etc.

Another try at pictures from Saturday

  The first one is of us in the hotel restaurant.  We were the only people there at that time, and got lots of nice attention from the waiter, who spoke very good English.
  The second one is when we were out walking.  The red sign says, "McDonald's" in cyrillic!
  The last is of our hotel Budapest.  This was when we were coming back from our walk, and were proud that we had managed not to get lost!!
   We're off for B'fast now and then will meet Toni and Marty soon to head east!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday in Sofia

   We've arrived and have really enjoyed the trip so far!  Thanks to everyone who prayed for Leslie and our saying good-bye....  there was certainly divine intervention!  She actually smiled, gave me 3 kisses and waved good-bye!  WOW -- this is the girl that often cries when I go to the library!!
   Our flights went well, and while I didn't keep looking around for the kids like I usually do in airports, I DID have a hard time thinking at every minute that we'd left a carry-on behind.  Dan and I had one carry on and the computer case, and we ususally (traveling with the kids) have multiple back-packs, 7 jackets, one or 2 pull carry-ons, etc.  So, everytime we got up to go walk around the airport or get off a plane, I'd ask Dan, "Is this really everything??"
   So, we got into Sofia and Toni and her brother (our driver), Marty, were waiting for us.  They brought us to the Hotel Budapest (yes, we are in Bulgaria..... the Budapest is just the name of the hotel!).  We got checked in and then went for a walk downtown.  A lot of places had already closed because it was later in the evening, but not yet dark.  We managed not to get lost.  However, Toni had given us a cell phone with her number keyed in (as she does for all families) so that if we needed any help, we could get in touch with her.  She actually called us while we were out, and we decided to leave a little bit earlier than originally planned tomorrow for the drive to the area where Teodor lives. 
   We came back to the hotel, had dinner in the restaurant here (passed up 2 McDonald's while out and about!) which was VERY good, and then --with the help of the desk clerk in the lobby, figured out how to get online.  I didn't post right away because I knew I'd be up in the middle of the night with jet lag (which I am....  it's 2 am now! ) and I thought I'd give myself something to do later!  Ha~!  At least Dan is sleeping...  I had slept much more on the plane than he did.
   I'll see if I can get a few pictures put on before I try to go back to sleep!

Here's the view from our hotel room window.

OK -- well, there's one for you to see!  I'm now having trouble getting more to upload.  There're more on the computer... they just don't want to go to the blog.  It may have something to do with the fact that it's 2:15 and I'm sitting in the dark so that I don't wake up Dan!  Ha!  I'll head back to bed, and work on it again in the morning!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prayer Requests

  I have asked people to be praying for several specific things, but I'll list more here now.  These have been things that I've been praying for quite awhile now.  And, God has already started answering them!  I've been praying that -- if it's God's plan, that we'd be able to visit Teodor's school and get a better idea of how he spends his days and exactly what his class is studying.  I've also asked that we might could arrange for an English tutor for him during the time between our first trip now and the final trip in which he'll come home with us.  I mentioned these things to Toni (our Bulgarian attorney and translator) in an email and she wrote back with great news!  Hopefully both of those prayers will be answered at once.  She called the orphanage director earlier this week, and they talked of plans for our visit.  The director said that, because their village is rural, there really aren't that many professionals in the area that speak English.  But, she actually suggested that we visit the school and meet the English teacher there to ask if she would be willing to tutor Teodor!!  So, hopefully if this works out, we'll be able to see the school, and arrange for a tutor at the same time!  I was smiling for the rest of the morning thinking how great it is to see an obvious example of how God is going before us to work out the details!
   This actually brings up another request.  I'm now praying that we can very clearly communicate to the English teacher that we want his lessons to be fun!!  We're not asking for lots of grammar usage here!!  Our main idea is to give him exposure to some good, basic phrases that will be helpful in transitioning to our home...   helpful vocabulary taught through games or activities that he looks forward to.  I certainly don't want him dreading coming to America because we speak that awful foreign language that has been his worst enemy for the past summer months!!  :)
   Naturally, meeting with the orphanage director, the teacher(s) at the school, and other caretakers will bring conversations that Toni (who is a believer) will translate.  I'm praying that we will have opportunities to express Christ's love in lots of different ways.
   Also, as I've mentioned before, I'm praying that Teodor will feel comfortable enough around us to relax and let us see the REAL him!!  I really want to see his true personality, as well as any limitations or warning signs of "orphanage behaviors" that we'd like to be aware of.  He is listed as a "special needs child," and while we already know of several of those special needs, we want to be able to discern any other things that will help us prepare more fully for having him home with us.
   Last  -- and this is a big one --- I've been praying that I won't be an emotional wreck when it comes time to leave him and head home.  I just can't imagine being with him, bonding with him, and then walking away for possibly six months!  I have closely followed other blogs of families that have gone before us to Bulgaria over the past 5 months.  When they get to the pictures and descriptions of the last day, I'm in tears over these kids and parents that I have never met before!!!  How will I manage when it's MY turn?  Only by God's grace.  I remember crying on Dan's shoulder one night after we watched the video of a little girl in an orphanage in Bulgaria that I knew we would not adopt.  I just couldn't stand the thought of that precious child without a family to love her.  I laughed in my tears and asked him if I was falling apart over this sweet little girl that I had never met.... how would I EVER walk out of an orphanage after meeting lots of similar kids without taking them all home with me?  I'm starting to pray NOW for next Thursday around noon when we will drive away from Teodor's orphanage.

Just the TWO of us~

   When Dan and I get on the plane in Atlanta on Friday, it will be just the two of us.  I realized that the two of us have not flown anywhere alone together in over 15 years!!!  Wow--   I've flown without Dan and the kids, and he's flown without all of us, but the 2 of us have not flown anywhere together since before we had children!  It's a very strange feeling.  We are packing two suitcases.  Amazing.
    I definitely know that this mom will be walking through the international airports reaching for one of many little hands to hold, or suddenly looking up to count heads and make sure we're all still together!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Weeks from Today....

   ... we will be laying eyes on Teodor for the first time.  I'm SO very ready to see his sweet face in person.  What's odd is that since the only picture we have of him is old, he likely will look different.  This is MY child, and yet I wonder if I'll recognize him!  :)  I think of how much Justin has changed in the last year or 2, and I wonder how much he will have changed.
   Last night, Dan and I planned the activities that we'll play with him while we're there.  There are a few things that I still need to buy.
   I wonder when he'll find out that we're coming.  What exactly will they tell him?  I don't want him to feel any pressure that he has to "perform" for us or we won't be happy with him, and yet I'd guess that that will be the very way that he WILL feel.  I'm praying that he'll relax quickly and that we'll get to know the real him during the short visits that we'll have together.